With the help of a three-day vote, the authorities managed to avoid the second rounds of gubernatorial elections in five regions and achieve the victory of pro-government candidates. This is the conclusion reached by Golos experts in their report on the results of public observation of the September 13 elections. They also pointed to irregularities related to early voting, outdoor voting and vote counting. According to one of the authors of the report, Stanislav Andreychuk, such half-measures as the proposal of the head of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, on the daily counting of votes, will not fundamentally change the situation, which can only be affected by the refusal to vote for many days.
Golos experts analyzed the course of the recent election campaign and came to the conclusion that without the three-day voting in the Krasnodar Territory, Penza, Rostov, Smolensk and Tambov regions there would have been second rounds of gubernatorial elections. Recall that in the summer the authors of the rating of political stability of governors from the company “Minchenko Consulting” announced the likelihood of second rounds in the Irkutsk, Arkhangelsk, Kostroma and Penza regions, as well as in the Krasnodar Territory. Experts of the Civil Society Development Fund, on the contrary, did not expect the second rounds and noted that the elections of governors would be held according to referendum scenarios.
Golos experts are sure that it was the new form of voting, which is “difficult to control” and “easily falsified,” that helped the pro-government candidates achieve victory. While the activity of voters, who explained that it was now more convenient to vote, this innovation had no effect: in most cases, the turnout remained at the same level as in the previous elections. Experts were suspicious only of the high turnout in early voting, which correlates with the higher results of United Russia, and a large share of those who voted electronically (51.7%) for United Russia Andrei Kovalenko in the by-election to the State Duma in the Yaroslavl region.
At the same time, at polling stations controlled by “motivated and trained” observers, results were recorded that significantly differed from the results in neighboring territories that did not fall under such control, the authors of the report noted. In their opinion, “observation can significantly affect the situation by preventing the falsification of the voting results.” However, the multi-day voting reduced the possibilities of public control over the work of election commissions, making it more resource-intensive: the number of required observers increased three to four times.
In addition, as experts found out, the competition in the elections of heads of regions was “almost completely exterminated”: in 10 regions out of 18, the winner received more than 75% of the vote, and in 14 regions his gap from the main rival exceeded 50%. The least competitive were the elections of the governor of Sevastopol, where the gap between the winner and the closest rival was 80.8% of the vote. “A faint semblance of competition” manifested itself only in the Irkutsk, Kostroma, Rostov and Smolensk regions. “Wherever the possibility of voting“ against all ”is provided, a significant part of voters use this opportunity. One of the main reasons for such a vote is dissatisfaction with the limited choice, ”the report says. But the elections to regional parliaments, on the contrary, turned out to be competitive: in four regions four parties were elected to legislative assemblies, in one – five, in five – six, and in one – seven.
The chairmen of the commissions tried to prohibit taking photographs and videos, artificially delaying the consideration of complaints and refused to submit documents for review. Violation of some procedures was recorded in every fifth precinct commission where the study was conducted. Cases were repeatedly revealed when third parties interfered in the activities of the commissions. Members of commissions, observers, candidates, employees of their headquarters were subjected to pressure from law enforcement agencies. “Such pressure discredits the elections, undermines confidence in their results,” the report says.
The experts also recorded violations related to the procedure for early voting (violation of the rules for storing ballots and the integrity of safe-packages, refusals to provide information on the number of voters and to familiarize themselves with the acts of early voting) and voting outside the premises of polling stations (mass entry of voters into the relevant register in addition to their will), as well as counting votes (simultaneous counting in several batches of ballots, non-public counting).
On Wednesday, at a meeting with electoral experts, the chairman of the Central Election Commission, Ella Pamfilova, said that the commission was ready to discuss various ideas for changing electoral procedures in the event of a multi-day voting in the upcoming 2021 State Duma elections. “Now I’ll say a generally odious thing. Maybe, if suddenly there will be a two-day vote, a three-day vote, perhaps, think over the procedure for the daily summing up, without taking it somewhere. This is being discussed, this should be discussed, ”said Ms. Pamfilova.
One of the authors of the report, co-chairman of Golos Stanislav Andreychuk, believes that this will solve only a small part of the problems. “What is the point of counting ballots when you cannot control how they ended up in the boxes? Moreover, until the end of the elections it will be possible to count only the total number of ballots, but not their distribution by candidates and parties, and this creates an opportunity to replace them. It all looks as if your leg was cut off, and then, to make it less painful, they suggest putting a plantain on it, ”he told Kommersant, noting that the situation would only be improved by refusing to vote for many days.